De Soto Hotel owner shares plan for property after fire

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – After the historic De Soto Hotel in Downtown El Paso caught fire in February, the hotel’s owner tells KTSM he plans to move forward with renovation plans and does not need to demolish the building.

As KTSM previously reported, a major fire broke out at the hotel in early February, severely damaging the building, especially the fourth floor and the roof.

The El Paso Fire Marshal’s Office was unable to determine a cause for the fire according to a report released on March 23.

Rogelio Gonzalez, the owner of the De Soto Hotel, told KTSM he plans to move forward with his renovation plans and was reapplying for a new incentive proposal.

“Right now we need to do some demolition inside and then from there we’re going to start constructing the roof and everything we need to do,” Gonzalez said.

Laura Cruz-Acosta, a spokesperson with the City of El Paso, told KTSM in an email, that the City is working with the Gonalez to reassess the financial need associated with the rehabilitation of the property, taking into account increased costs resulting from fire damage .

Cruz-Acosta said any new incentive proposal must be approved by the City Council before moving forward.

Gonzalez told KTSM he did not know what the costs were at this point as a result of the fire damage.

“It’s one of those things as you progress and start working on it you start seeing the numbers because all material costs are changing from week to week,” Gonzalez said.

The owner said he still wants to make it a boutique hotel which was his original renovation plan.

Gonzales purchased the building in 2019 and was planning to bring it back to life with City of El Paso incentives.

On December 14, 2021, the El Paso City Council unanimously approved a 380 Economic Development Program Agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, the property owner would have made a minimum $1,200,000 investment and the City would have supported the project in the form of property tax rebates, construction materials sales tax rebates, and permit fee rebates generated from the building improvements.

In total, $109,000 in local incentives and grants (more than two-thirds of which is attributed to City incentives) were committed to supporting the restoration and rehabilitation of the building into a 34-unit hotel with a first-floor storefront.

“I was just trying to bring some work and some opportunities for the people of El Paso keep everything local, help out the community,” Gonzalez said.

According to the structural inspection report done by Harder Structural Engineering, most of the floor structures from the first through fourth floors are intact.

“It is recommended that the exterior walls above the 4th floor be braced to prevent collapse, and any loose brick along the parapet of the building should be removed. Once the exterior walls above the 4th floor are braced, debris from the fire/water as well as any loose wall and ceiling coverings should be removed.”

Harder Structural Engineering inspection report

PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE DE SOTO FIRE

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